The current war in Iraq is part of a much, much larger “culture war” not being reported. The fracturing of the international community and the internal divisions it is causing within nations is symptomatic of the deeper war that is really going on. What follows is a brief overview of the three major issues undergirding this true war for the 21st century, which will determine the future of the world. It is also an attempt to contextualize how our individual lives fit into this picture with the hope that in better understanding the larger war beyond Iraq, we will begin to discover our role in this war, as individuals who truly care who wins.
While God displays His ability to bless the righteous individual amidst judgment upon the masses, both in scripture and history, the fact remains that all of us function within a global socio-economic ecosystem. Put simply, our deck chairs are riding upon the Titanic. It is possible for our chair to float on its own, but the condition of the gigantic ship and the future of the deck chairs are vitally related.
There can be “darkness in Egypt, but light in Goshen,” and believers should approach their futures with confidence in God’s provision no matter what happens to the larger ecosystem. Nevertheless, to be unaware, unprayerful, and unprepared to run our lives in accordance with the big picture trends in geo-politics and economics is simply foolish and therefore un-Christlike. Hence, the attitudes and behavior of “the men of Issachar who discerned the times and knew what Israel should do,” must be the model for all believers, and especially their leaders.
Knowing that the end of the so-called Cold War has brought enormous changes to our world, and that greater ones are on the way, we should build our lives, families, churches, businesses, and nations on a rock prepared and ready for social-economic storms. While I look forward to discussing the necessities of that preparation in greater detail in the future as well as what that building should look like, in this brief discussion I want to share with you what I see to be the driving forces that are shaping man’s current attempt to define the world’s future in the 21st century.
To understand the tides and currents of the ocean is to be better prepared to interpret the waves. So much of our current news and analysis reporting seems to have no clue as to what the real mega issues are. Hence, our ability to interpret the daily “waves” of the news leads only to confusion and therefore an inability to be at peace, live strategically, and watch God’s hand in all of this so we can more accurately discern the times and know what, when, and how “to do.”
Permit me, therefore, to sketch a broad picture of what I believe is really happening. In doing so, I pray that this “sketch” would help you and yours be more attuned to God as you pray and plan. There are three driving forces or issues now in play. Here they are:
Mega Issue #1
Western civilization, built largely upon a Judeo-Christian foundation, is slowly committing suicide because it has not yet decided whether it wants to acknowledge that heritage, and rebuild upon it, or whether or not Christianity has a right to exist as a culture-shaping religion.
Western civilization, and its global influence, was substantially built upon a foundation of Judeo-Christian values. To deny this is historical idiocy. Likewise, our economic system was premised upon Christian values, and the conviction that a loving God wanted to liberate man and constantly improve his lot as God’s Kingdom continued to extend itself upon the earth.
“Capitalism,” for example, is based on the faith assumption that hard work and investment in the present will produce profitable return in the future because God has created a cause and effect universe. The fabric of our economic system was generally based upon Old Testament law, most specifically Deuteronomy. Until the second half of the 20th century, it still followed the spirit of those foundations. For example, home loans prior to World War II, like many other loans, were frequently limited to the biblical parameters of seven years.
Be that as it may, anti-Christian, secular thought has largely eroded our Christian values and produced an economic sea of public and private debt, not to mention a torrent of moral, ethical, and familial debris. Fueled by so called “intellectual enlightenment”; a psychological view of man; a hatred of moral absolutes; and shameless historical revisionism; the forces of anti-Christian thought have caused Western culture to denigrate and self-consciously destroy its own root structures in the name of the “separation of church and state.”
While this root-devouring, moral earthquake took place amidst the pressures of the Cold War, the rise of militant Islam and terrorism have punctuated our double-mindedness with a new dilemma. If we loathe our Christian heritage, as the secular “intellectuals” do, and continue to turn out a stream of students, professors, culture-shapers, and media-elite who present Christianity as an ancient disease which must finally be so diluted as to be rendered benign, our cultural root structures will be so weakened as to make physical and cultural self-defense virtually impossible. One cannot defend what one doesn’t believe. That is the true fuel which is feeding the anti-war movement and the arguments surrounding “preemptive” invasions.
Specifically, terrorists can now attack from any nation in such a way that no nation can be specifically blamed or punished unless overt support can be “proven.” While Iraq’s case is circumstantial at best and is based upon preemptive potential support, after Iraq, the potential for direct military action will become very, very speculative and difficult. The result will be a tremendous pressure to accommodate the demands of the terrorists by the general public so as to avoid further interruption of our Western lifestyle.
This will obviously focus negatively on U.S. policy toward Israel, the Middle East, and Christian missionary efforts globally, especially in any nation where there are numbers of Muslims. In terms of public policy as “blackmail,” militant Islam possibilities are virtually limitless. Hence Islam, until the time of God’s own choosing, will become God’s instrument of discipline upon the apostate and secularized, former Christian West. This is God’s historical pattern as revealed constantly in biblical history.
Mega Issue #2
The United States and her English-heritage family continue to pose an unwelcome challenge to European globalism, and hence, the division between Europe and the United States will likely grow.
Scripture teaches that God Himself creates and maintains national borders and
national sovereignty. One-world government and the enormous pressure for supra-national government, as well as international legal courts and jurisdictions, will continue to put major strains on any nation, especially the United States, which still holds to the vestiges of the Christian idea of national sovereignty. Likewise at risk are the concepts of sphere-sovereignty and the notion of fallen man needing divisions of power
through checks and balances. The spiritual forces seeking to obliterate national sovereignty in the name of “peace and prosperity” will continue to oppose, and make increasingly difficult, any other position. England and Switzerland within the European community, and the U.S. outside of the E.U., will increasingly be isolated if they do not move toward full compliance with internationalism.
“Unilateralism” will increasingly be the politically-correct term pejoratively hurled at any nation holding to the national sovereignty model by the “New World Order.” John Lennon’s song, “Imagine,” will continue to undergird the vision of a fantasy world, with fantasy people living beyond the pale of biblical reality. Nationalism of any real sort will be added to the list of hated and banned “absolutes” of any kind, except the absolutes being promoted by the New World Order intellectual Fascists.
Mega Issue #3
Economic lifestyle issues have become more important than moral, ethical, or “national welfare” issues to a significant portion of Western nations, thereby re-defining historical relations, nationally and internationally.
As numbers of social scientists and commentators have noted over the last twenty years or so, the common religion of the modern Western world is “personal peace, convenience, and economic opportunity.” While a primary concern for those issues most closely affecting one’s personal life has always been the case, “economic lifestyle issues” have historically been subordinated to the transcendent values of religion, “freedom,” or nationalism.
Today, it is increasingly clear that this is not the case for much of the West. Instead, threats to the moral, ethical, spiritual, or national well-being of individuals may best be described by the notion that until “the wolf comes to my door,” I will resist risking anything that interrupts my own sense of personal security.
Significant numbers of secularly-minded people, “emancipated” from either religion, nationalism, or “morality imposed upon other people,” view this situation as an important positive development in human evolution and one that will greatly reduce conflict and promote “freedom.” Through Western secular universities and mass-media leadership, this perspective—largely based upon the assumption of the innate goodness of man and the rejection of any notion of man’s inherent tendency to sinful self-centeredness—has profoundly affected the entire world, but the citizens of Western nations most particularly. Polarizing this new “enlightened” view of reality in opposition to those who hold to so-called “traditional views,” most particularly Christians, the situation has not only divided Western nations, it has continuously diluted character issues in favor of economic pragmatism.
A classic case in point of this economic pragmatism was the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinski, White House scandal. Clearly the majority of the American people came to the conclusion that misusing a female Intern sexually in the President’s office was not morally significant enough to outweigh the perceived linkage of the President’s performance and the strength of the economy. While highly unlikely that any CEO of a major corporation, any military officer, college professor, or medical doctor could get away with the same conduct were they discovered, it was clear that in the case of President Clinton, pragmatic economic reality clearly and easily outweighed any other criteria, even for a nation where “ninety percent of the people believe in God.” Indeed, this God must be more of an economic-determinist than an upholder of moral character and justice for the oppressed and manipulated.
This trend of economic pragmatism in the Western nations not only suggests the cumulative success of Karl Marx’s view of economic reality determining history—having won the minds of large numbers of the Western population—it suggests that arguments to motivate people based on any other values will suffer increasing rejection and even derision. In short, “Show me the money,” and “How will this affect me and mine?” appear to be rapidly becoming the transcendent value of what once was the “Judeo-Christian” West.
A Summary and General Conclusions
Summarizing, here is what I have said:
1. The West has increasingly turned against its Judeo-Christian root structures, and it is not yet clear if it is willing to hold to its historic cultural identity, or fully release it, as it incorporates all cultures as equally valid.
2. The West, after the traumas of World Wars I and II, has increasingly moved toward one-world government and the subordination of nations to a supra-national form of government. The United States, as the world’s only superpower, still appears committed to the biblical notion of national sovereignty. This will continue to create deepening tensions between the United States and Europe.
3. Historic Judeo-Christian values have been marginalized and economic-determinism and economic lifestyle issues continue to ascend into the position of transcendent national motivation.
The micro and macro economic implications of this powerfully emerging “threefold cord” are likely to be the following:
1. Significant insecurity and volatility of investments due to major shifts in the value-base of Western decision-making because “the rules of the game” are profoundly unstable. Investments are always undergirded by calculated security. In the realms of spiritual and intellectual reality and concepts, the Teutonic Plates are shifting even beyond what took place in the “age of ideology,” beginning in the 17th century up until the end of the so-called Cold War. International investment will plummet until the “new rules” are clarified; regional investments will rapidly ascend.
2. Social and political division will increase and deepen within Western nations, causing economic uncertainty. Even when the current Gulf War is resolved and the markets go up and temporary economic security appears to be occurring, these three mega-trend shifts will not permit sustained growth. These issues must be put squarely on the table, and be thoroughly debated nationally and internationally. Either a general consensus must be reached or a clearly understood set of lines of conflict demarcated. Consistent economic and social investments will not be forthcoming until this “threefold” cord battle is sufficiently resolved to so warrant.
We are, I believe, standing at a unique place in history. At this juncture, so-called “economic-determinism,” the Marxist-based notion of economic socialism which says everything comes down to money, is now challenging the spiritual view of man. That view contends that life without honor, integrity, heroism, and self-sacrifice is not worth living. The allegiance of Western society and its role and relationship to the rest of
the world is now precipitously at stake. Until this battle is resolved by debate, each person either making up his or her own mind or, in the lesser case, following those who seem trustworthy enough in their arguments to be worth following, economic security, as we have known it since the close of World War II, has most likely come to an end.
By Dennis Peacocke. This article originally appeared in the March 2003 edition of Business Reform Magazine.